In my head, I like to think that I’m a keen traveller. I love exploring different cultures and if I had my way (and the sufficient funds available), my dream would be to travel the world. I do sometimes find travelling to be quite cumbersome and often times irritating however, as the experiences of travelling while fat greatly differs from travelling when you’re a conventionally acceptable weight.
I’ve recently returned from a week long trip to one of my favourite cities in the world, Prague, and while I have visited the city a few times and am completely in love with it, I found this time round i encountered a few uncomfortable situations. I’m aware from experience that a fair few Eastern European countries are fatphobic and a bit racist so my vigilance and awareness levels are always sky high when visiting. I had a few uncomfortable encounters on this recent trip which did enough to knock my confidence severely and to almost make me feel somewhat ashamed of my body.
When travelling (especially with my boyfriend, who is white), i’m used to people staring at me; I’m used to people watching me eat, people whispering in another language about us, people invading my personal space and touching me/my hair and people coming at me with the snide comments. It’s easy to take the defensive route and lash out at everyone, but it’s important to acknowledge that the UK and the US have the highest rates of overweight people in the world and so we are used to seeing fat people all over the place.
In other countries around Europe however, this isn’t the case. During my week long stay in Prague, I only saw one other fat person apart from myself. When going to a country where obesity isn’t a *huge* problem, you can expect to be stared at a LOT – it doesn’t necessarily mean that the stares are coming from a hurtful or mean place though. A lot of the time, we are a subject of fascination for people as it’s not every day they will encounter someone with a body type such as ours. While this isn’t an excuse for gawping – it’s sometimes wise to take that into account before getting immediately offended.
So what do you do if you’re on holiday and you find yourself the subject of gawping and unwanted attention?
A simple thing such as smiling can make all the different. Whether the person is being rude or not, smiling is a good way to make yourself approachable and if they are being rude, make them feel hella uncomfortable. Show them that they aren’t getting to you. Let your confidence shine through.
Now if your petty levels aren’t as high as mine, you may want to give this step a miss. I tend to do this a lot as it’s quite a subtle confrontation and normally, the person will eventually look away knowing they’ve been rumbled.
It can be quite an uncomfortable feeling when you’re eating out and it feels like everyone is staring at you eat specifically because you’re the *fat* one. It’s very distracting, but what you need to remember is that you have just as much of a right to eat like anyone else. Ignore the people staring and carry on with your meal. It’s all about making the most of the time you have abroad and you certainly do not want to waste that time worrying about what other people think of you.
As I said above, when you’ve paid a lot of money to go on a wonderful relaxing trip, the last thing you want to do is spend time worrying and fretting about temporary events. You as a fat person have just as much of a right to go on holiday and relax as much as anyone else. I let a couple of silly people tear my confidence down when I wanted to swim but I had to pick myself up the next day and tell myself that I have the same rights as anyone else to swim and enjoy myself. Your holiday is your time to relax and just be free. There’s a huge chance that you’ll never see those people ever again, so why let 3 minutes of judgment affect your entire time abroad? Do you care? Should you care? NAH.
If you are worried about how you may be received when going abroad, it may be useful to do a bit of research and read some reviews beforehand to prepare yourself. Most countries are lovely and if you stick to the tourist areas or capital cities, you should be totally fine. In my personal experience, I’m always more wary when I visit Eastern European countries; Prague (in some areas) can be quite racist and fatphobic, however Budapest in Hungary is an absolute dream. Some cities in Italy are surprisingly quite fatphobic and whilst in Naples the reception of my skin colour was quite frosty to say the least. It’s always worth going onto Trip Advisor or finding some travel blogs if you’re wary about racism or fatphobia within a city.
Always keep in mind that your holiday is YOURS and that should never allow anyone to interfere or tamper with your piece of mind or serenity. You deserve!